Sunday, December 21, 2008

They really are great shoes

They even make blue anklets look good. I know, I know … The Wizard of Oz is almost 70 years old now. But the classics never go out of style -- not in fashion, not in movies.

It's only 68º in here

Which, while a bit chilly for my taste, is radically warmer than the -3º it is outside.

I am wearing the gray slippers I received from my best friend, I'm wrapped in a blanket, and sipping green tea. I can't tell you how not like me this is. I'm on the top floor, and heat rises, so I usually get the benefit of the heat from everyone below me. It's not unusual for me to have the windows open and even the fans turned on in December. But that is not the case this evening.

Sorry, but I just couldn't

Before today, I hadn't been to church in ages. This morning, I felt the need to worship in a more structured setting. I haven't been feeling very energetic about or involved in the holidays and I thought that perhaps I needed to reacquaint myself with the more spiritual side of the season.

I'm worried about my job. I'm worried about my brother-in-law's job, and what happens to my sister's family and my mom if I'm not financially able to help. I don't do a lot -- school supplies and savings bonds for my niece and nephew, medicare supplemental insurance and snow removal for my mom -- but I don't know where they would turn for these things without me.

I'm also worried about that I may be missing the moment by fixating on a lay-off which might not happen. I'm prepared, or as prepared as I believe I can be, with my mortgage paid 6 months in advance and 7-8 months of expenses tucked away. I wish I could relax and be more present to enjoy and help my friends this holiday season.

My former boss is a 50+ cancer survivor who is suddenly out of work, after having possibly the worst year anyone could have. We're trying to get together for drinks tomorrow and I want to be upbeat for him. My oldest friend is having huge issues with her kids. My friend Mindy is working very hard to wear her happy face, even though her sister is very, very ill. My friend John has not only had his share of health problems, he's also suffering a righteous case of survivor guilt for being one of those not laid off during his agency's blood bath last week. (Merry Christmas!) I care about them all and want to be helpful and aware and positive for them through the holidays. So I wanted to reconnect with Christ, to joy and hope, to the idea that faith strengthens us and can carry us through.

The one friend who hasn't been on my radar is Kathy. And wouldn't you know, she was sitting three pews ahead of me. I went out of my way to slip out early so she wouldn't see me and I wouldn't have to speak to her. Perhaps I should have -- OK, I KNOW I should have -- but I just couldn't.

You see, even though Kathy has had more than her share of financial and career issues lately, she can be awfully ... difficult. One of the long-time issues we have had is this very church. When I began attending services back in the early 1990s, she actually teased me about it. It's so provincial, so into a conventional interpretation of God, and she needs more. Kathy maintains she is a more flexible, more creative soul than I. My response has always been that my relationship with the Lord is a personal thing, and I wasn't interested in what she thought about it. That didn't stop her from bringing the subject up again, and again, and again …

Imagine my surprise, and discomfort, when I saw in our church bulletin that she had completed the religious training program and joined my congregation. I had no comment on it, but she called me and gave an embarrassed laugh, saying that changing her mind about my church is just one of her "Kathy things." I usually attend the early service, she the 11:00 AM service, so our paths seldom crossed.

When she lost her apartment and had to move in with her kids, several towns west of here, I thought I wouldn't see her again at either service. Surprise! She was there today.

I love her and honor all the decades of our friendship. I am not minimizing her suffering. She must be very frightened with the prospect of homelessness literally before her. So I am not begrudging her spiritual sustenance. I know she is a complicated woman, and that usually is one of the things I like and even admire about her. But I couldn't deal with her today. Not in that setting. I couldn't risk any encounter we had today breaking bad. Not this close to Christmas.

Sorry, but I just couldn't.

I'm a mess, aren't I?


I love watching Hugh Grant's romantic comedies. Onscreen* he's funny, sweet, appealingly diffident and appears to be a very good kisser.

That is all.

* Except for the cad he plays in the Bridget Jones movies. That role is the exception that proves the rule.